An opposition MP in South Korea set off tear gas in parliament Tuesday, in an apparent bid to stop lawmakers passing a free-trade pact with the US.
The attempt was unsuccessful, however, with the bill passing by 151 to seven in spite of the disruption, the Guardian said.
The free-trade agreement, known as the KORUS FTA, has long been a source of contention within South Korea's national assembly, Voice of America reported.
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The ruling Grand National party says it will increase bilateral trade by up to a quarter, while opposition parties refused to ratify it out of fears it could threaten domestic jobs and limit South Korea's freedom to regulate business disagreements.
Opposition MPs were particularly angered by the ruling party's decision to call a snap session to vote on the bill, VOA said, meaning only a small number of its opponents were present in parliament's main chamber Tuesday.
Those that were reportedly shouted and jostled ruling party lawmakers in protest.
Then, Democratic party MP Kim Sun-dong suddenly produced a canister of tear gas from his bag and set it off next to the speaker's podium.
Kim, a first-term lawmaker and former student activist according to the Korea Times, was removed from the chamber by security guards, while shouting, "Let me go bastards! No FTA."
The hall was cleared temporarily, but MPs soon returned, coughing and wiping their eyes.
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It was not the first time parliamentarians came to blows over the deal, noted the Times:
In December 2008, lawmakers and legislative aides used sledge hammers and fire extinguishers to break the door of the National Assembly Foreign Affairs and Trade Committee’s conference room in an effort to prevent a vote on the KORUS FTA.
The Korea Chamber of Commerce and Industry says the bill will enable South Korea to become a trade hub between Asia, Europe and North America, according to Channel News Asia.
The US Congress passed the agreement last month. It is now set to come into effect January 1, 2012.
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